- First thing – communicate. Start out by discussing and writing down your financial goals. Examples of short term goals include a new car and vacation. Long term goals might include a college fund for your children as well as retirement.
- Budget – Start by gathering all expenses and all income. To make sure you don’t miss any, review your checkbook entries and your credit cards. Compare your expenses and income to see if you’re living within your income. It’s also a good time to review your spending. How much can you save?
- Credit Cards – Before you add a spouse to your credit card, understand that both of you will be responsible for all of the debt. And bad credit for one will negatively impact the credit rating of the other.
- Joint or separate bank accounts – There are advantages to having a joint account like fewer fees and easier record keeping. But keeping track of the activity of two people can be challenging. Many couples decide to have separate accounts for this reason.
- Insurance – if both spouses have separate health insurance coverage, review both plans to determine if one is better than the other – look at deductibles, co-payments etc. Also look at the cost of two separate plans vs. one family plan.
- Employer sponsored retirement plans – review both employer sponsored retirement plans and if you can swing it, both should contribute the maximum. If you have to pick only one plan, chose the company with the best match. Take vesting schedules into account and review the investment options. Understand if either plan offers loan options.
Opinions expressed are those of Tom Fleishel and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.